Thornton T. Munger

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Thornton T. Munger (1883 1975) was a pioneering research scientist for the U.S. Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest, known for founding research operations at the Wind River Experimental Forest.

The Wind River Experimental Forest is an ecological and silvicultural research in Stabler, Washington, in the United States. Used as a research site by the U.S. Forest Service beginning in 1908, and functioning as an experimental forest since 1932, it is "known as the cradle of forest research in the Pacific Northwest". The site is probably best known for the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility (WRCCRF), a 285-foot (87 m)-high freestanding tower crane supporting an 8-person gondola allowing scientist to view the forest canopy from above. The crane is roughly the height of a 25-story building. The tallest trees in the forest are about 220 feet (67 m).


Early life

Thornton Taft Munger was born in North Adams, Massachusetts on October 3, 1883. Munger grew up next to the large estate of Hillhouse Woods, an eighteen-acre natural area, which facilitated his lifelong interest in forests. Munger went to Yale, graduating in 1905, also earning a master's degree in forestry from the school in 1908. After receiving his master's degree, Munger went to work for the U.S. Forest Service.

Forest Service

In 1908, Munger was assigned to the Forest Service's new North Pacific District in Portland, Oregon. Almost immediately, Munger began his influential studies of the Douglas fir trees found in the western Cascades, establishing research plots in the Wind River area. In 1912, Munger established an arboretum in the area, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Munger used the arboretum to test the suitability of exotic trees in the specific climate and conditions of the Pacific Northwest. After working to further establish the Wind River Arboretum, as well as a nearby nursery, the area was selected by the Forest Service to be a permanent research site. In 1913, the Wind River Experiment Station was officially designated by the Forest Service. In 1924, the Wind River Experimental Station was replaced by the new Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, with offices in Portland, Oregon. Munger was selected as the first director of the Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station.

Wind River Arboretum, part of the Wind River Experimental Forest, is a research arboretum located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Carson, Washington.

Munger continued his research at Wind River until his retirement for the Forest Service in 1946. Wind River was the site of valuable long-term studies of plants and wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, with many of the projects continuing on for decades. Munger’s pioneering research legacy at Wind River was permanently honored following his death on August 11, 1975, when the Thornton T. Munger Research Natural Area was officially designated on Wind River Forest lands in 1977.

Civic Activism

In the mid-1940s, Munger became the first chairman of the Forest Park Committee of Fifty, a committee created by the Portland City Club and the Mazamas to promote creation of a large forested park in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon. [1] The city dedicated Forest Park in 1948. Munger later co-wrote a history of the park. [2] The Committee of Fifty eventually became the Forest Park Conservancy.


The Mazamas is a mountaineering organization based in Portland, Oregon, US, founded in 1894.

Forest Park (Portland, Oregon)

Forest Park is a public municipal park in the Tualatin Mountains west of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Stretching for more than 8 miles (13 km) on hillsides overlooking the Willamette River, it is one of the country's largest urban forest reserves. The park, a major component of a regional system of parks and trails, covers more than 5,100 acres (2,064 ha) of mostly second-growth forest with a few patches of old growth. About 70 miles (110 km) of recreational trails, including the Wildwood Trail segment of the city's 40-Mile Loop system, crisscross the park.

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Les Joslin (author)

Leslie Allen Joslin is an American retired naval officer, natural resource manager, educator, and author. After serving twenty-two years in the United States Navy, Joslin retired in Oregon where he worked for the United States Forest Service. He also taught college courses at Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University. Joslin has written or edited eleven books, most of them related in some way to the Forest Service or the state of Oregon. He is also a well-known lecturer on forest resources and central Oregon history topics.


  1. Forest Park entry in the Oregon Encyclopedia
  2. Munger, Thornton T. and C. Paul Keyser, History of Portland’s Forest-Park. Portland, Ore.: Committee of Fifty, 1960.

The Forest History Society is an American non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of forest and conservation history. The society was established in 1946 and incorporated in 1955.